21 March will be the second International Down Syndrome Day, recognised in 2012 by a UN resolution as "a symbolic date chosen in reference to the 3 chromosomes 21 at the origin of the syndrome." To mark this occasion, "15 associations of parents of people with Down syndrome have chosen to share their joy but also their anguish at the ‘anti-Down’ climate," and to "raise citizens’ awareness and inform them about this pathology that is insufficiently understood and about the prejudices attached to it." For this purpose, they have launched the campaign "Down syndrome… and So What!" Among these associations, 10 are European (Spain, Portugal, Croatia, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Poland and Latvia, with the Collectif les Amis d’Eléonore and the Fondation Jérôme Lejeune for France), 1 Russian, 1 American and 1 from New Zealand.
He asks: "how in this culture of generalised screening, whose implicit message is the rejection of the disabled child, can a couple still desire the arrival of an imperfect child?"
In Russia, Down syndrome also faces real intolerance from society: "when the Russian actress Evelina Bledans gave birth to a trisomic child, the first question of the doctors made her shudder: ‘Will you take it or leave it?’". In this country, experts say, "many wrong ideas have survived from the Soviet era." So "the majority of trisomic children are abandoned by their parents just after their birth" and "they vegetate in institutions for mentally ill patients, with their care reduced to the minimum and without any hope of being integrated into society." Because "trisomic children are rarely adopted by Russian families" and if they do get the chance it is very difficult for them to lead a normal life. Evelina Bledans, the mother of Sioma now aged 11 months, remains "convinced that he is ‘a gift from heaven’ whose mission is to ‘change the situation’ for thousands of trisomic people in Russia." On this point, she mentions that "many young women have written to me to say that after my stand they have finally had the courage to go out in daylight with their trisomic child and not only at night as they did before."